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A reggae star from the 1970s and 1980s has died. Gregory Isaacs, who released dozens of albums since the late 1960s, died at his home in London of lung cancer. He was 59 years old.

As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, Isaacs was a master of the reggae style known as lover's rock.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: Gregory Isaacs once said he looked for just two things in a song: a sweet melody and good lyrics.

(Soundbite of song, "Love is Overdue")

Mr. GREGORY ISAACS (Singer): (Singing) Now, who's going to hold and squeeze me tight now that she's gone out of my life?

BLAIR: This relaxed, silky style is what gave Isaacs the nickname the Cool Ruler. That was also the name of one of his albums. He dressed the part too. Designer suits. Elegant hats tilted just so. Gregory Isaacs mostly stayed away from social issues. But in Jamaica, he was every bit as popular as Bob Marley or Jimmy Cliff. Isaacs' messages were affairs of the heart.

(Soundbite of song, "Night Nurse")

Mr. ISAACS: (Singing) Because there's no prescription for me. She's the one, the only remedy. Night nurse...

BLAIR: For all the tenderness in his voice, Gregory Isaacs had a rough life. He was in and out of trouble with the authorities for years, for both weapons and drug possession. He once served six months in jail. Isaacs battled cocaine addiction. By most accounts, he'd stopped doing drugs in recent years.

Gregory Isaacs believed his music was universal. I represent love, he once said, and people fall in love every day.

(Soundbite of song, "Cool Ruler Come Again")

Mr. ISAACS: (Singing) So going tell it to the nation, enemies and friends. My gosh, cool ruler come again.

BLAIR: The Cool Ruler - Gregory Isaacs - died of lung cancer today at his home in London. He was 59.

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

(Soundbite of song, "Cool Ruler")

Mr. ISAACS: (Singing) But till every man that types wrap - lord and mercy. Someone's hoping and predicting for a flap but disya sound it are nonstop. Oh, yeah. Me come you fee rule dancehall - lord and mercy. Me come you fee rugby and smaller...


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